Saturday, January 25, 2014

Time to close the education gap

COAG Reform Council Education in Australia 2012

Adam Goodes made it.  But the odds were stacked against him.  

As an indigenous child born in Australia in 1980, he was likely to suffer worse health, educational and life-span outcomes than his non-indigenous peers. 

Instead, he had the good fortune of being a skilful and disciplined athlete, and at the age of 16, was plucked from bleaker prospects by AFL scouts.

Goodes has been duly recognised as 2014 Australian of the Year "for his leadership and advocacy in the fight against racism both on the sporting field and within society - a stance which has won him the admiration and respect of people around Australia".

He could equally receive high accolades for his work with indigenous young people - work, it seems, which will never have enough champions.

Indigenous young people today have only a 40% chance of being engaged in study or work after completing school, compared with 60% for non-indigenous, but low socio-economic, young people and 74% for all non-indigenous young people.

That means 60% of indigenous Australians aged 17-24 years are neither employed, nor studying - 80% in the Northern Territory.

These figures are horrifying.  

The 2013 COAG Reform Council report examined educational outcomes from 2007-2012 and found:

  • There was no improvement in school attendance rates of indigenous students
  • More Indigenous young people attained Year 12 or equivalent
  • Over 60% were not fully engaged in study or work after leaving school
  • Indigenous children are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable
  • Increases in indigenous students in Year 3 meeting minimum standard in reading
  • Decreases in indigenous students meeting minimum standard in numeracy in Year 3
These findings mean that COAG is failing to achieve the target set to halve the gap between the educational achievement of indigenous and non-indigenous students by 2018.

More to come

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